SOMERS — Following days of reported hate crimes and heightened security at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, a student has confessed to creating the list threatening black students because she wanted greater attention to the issue, according to authorities Friday night.
The suspect, whose identity was being withheld for her protection, reportedly told authorities she created the fliers — which listed 13 black students by name and threatened they were going to die in two days — found Thursday because she was not satisfied with the initial response from a resident assistant to rubber bands that were said to look like a noose, according to a press release from the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department Friday.
In an escalation of events since Wednesday, which kicked off Black History Month on campus, a series of what was initially believed to be racially motivated threats at Parkside, 900 Wood Road, had sparked an atmosphere of fear among students and launched a criminal investigation on the campus.
“There is absolutely no danger to the students at Parkside due to this threat,” the release said. “Through investigation KSD’s detectives were able to determine that there never was a threat of harm to students at Parkside.”
It began with a string of rubber bands, that some believed looked like a noose, found Wednesday hanging in a common area of Pike River Suites, one of the residence halls. On Thursday morning the resident student who reported it, Aubriana Banks, reportedly received a second noose, made with plastic string, and a threatening note telling her to run on her door. Then on Thursday night, the situation further escalated when students found a bunch of fliers at Pike River that read: “(Racial slur) will die in 2 days. No (racial slur) wanted,” with 13 names listed below.
Evidence led detectives to suspect one of the 13 named on that list, the release said, and when confronted, the suspect reportedly confessed to creating it because she was not satisfied with the initial response from a resident assistant to the rubber bands formed into a noose.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said charges will be filed after discussing the case with the District Attorney’s Office.
“Too many people were frightened and upset to let this case go without charges being filed,” he said in the release.
The suspect’s name is being withheld in order to “provide the opportunity to remove her from campus,” according to the release.
“Obviously, a high volume of emotions were generated over the last 24 hours,” the release stated. “Those emotions need to air out and not become focused on an individual.”
University officials had initially said at the onset of the incidents that the perpetrator, if caught, would at the very least likely face expulsion.
In the release, university Chancellor Deborah Ford and Parkside Police Chief Jim Heller both made remarks of relief that there was no actual threat to students.
Detectives are continuing to investigate if others are involved in making the noose or the list. No one is in custody as of Friday night, the release said. Sgt. Bill Beth with the Sheriff’s Department told The Journal Times Friday that Banks is not the suspect.
Authorities expected to release more details on Monday.
Earlier on Friday the department released photos of the two small “nooses” that stirred up the campus this week, in addition to stating authorities did not believe “a credible threat” existed but were continuing to investigate and pursue fresh leads.
“When you hear the term noose, you get a certain picture in your head,” Sheriff David Beth said. “I don’t think these nooses, made of rubber bands and plastic string, are what people would picture.”
After a late Thursday night meeting where hundreds of concerned students, parents, staff and others packed the Cinema at the university, there was heightened security on campus with officers patrolling and residence halls locked down.
“The message that we’re emphasizing on the campus, the chancellor and the team that’s handling this,” university spokesman Dave Buchanan said, “is we are focused on the safety and security of our students.”